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Putting the X on Exasperation

Words of Faith Final

Putting the X on Exasperation

Words of Faith 4-21-2021

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Ephesians 6

[4] Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.


      One of the primary ways to build a relationship with a child that honors us as parents is to avoid what Paul calls exasperation.  Do not exasperate your children.  Instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

      Some will be immediately puzzled by this.  One may respond--"It isn’t me that exasperates my child; it is my child who exasperates me!"  Almost every parent can relate!  But the key here is to realize who the grown-up is and that the parent is the one called to nurture the child--not vice versa.  So, the directive is to the parent and part of that imperative is to train the child in the instruction of the Lord.

     The most common barrier to Godly training is exasperation. How many times are parents "fed-up" or "stressed out" or "at their wit's end"?  The Greek word that Paul used here means exasperate, enrage, provoke to wrath. We might further define exasperation as emotional frustration that builds a barrier to honor and respect.  

     This is why the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit are required equipment for parenting. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Believe it or not, these qualities are standard-issue for a believer who is filled with the Spirit. We will struggle to get our selfish nature out of the way, but these are the qualities available to parents who are surrendered to the Lord. 

      The specific directive of Paul here is for fathers not to exasperate their children.  He might well have included mothers here.  Certainly, the call and responsibility are the same.  But as the head or "most exposed" leader in the home, it is especially vital for men to hear this.  The text speaks to authority in the home, but also to the particular sin nature of men-- the fact that men can be unusually selfish and exasperating to those around them.

      The word parorgidzo means exasperate, enrage, provoke to wrath. There is an implied decision in the word.  We can either provoke or not provoke.  We have the choice as grown-ups to escalate conflict or deescalate.  We have the choice to "dig in" out of parental pride or let some things pass because they are not that important.  We have the choice to demand unconditional compliance or listen and seek understanding. 

      We also have the role of setting the home's temperament so that it is either a safe environment or a dangerous place for kids. The father is responsible for "climate control" in the home.  When the dad hits the door, there is either a sense of joy or dread, fear or excitement.  If the family must walk on "pins and needles" every time the father is in the home, he is provoking an atmosphere of exasperation. With that said, the mother helps to set that thermostat through the respect she shows to the father.    

      Every Christian parent's fundamental decision, and specifically for Dads, is whether to turn away from selfish living to sacrificial living.  Dads who are more concerned with their careers than they are with their children create a climate of exasperation in which children will act out in order to gain attention from them. Fathers who are more concerned with their toys, hobbies, appetites, and rights

 are really just little boys in large bodies.  This is exasperating to everyone.

      On the other hand, Dads who have the vision to see that the window of time they have to shape and nurture their children is very short sow into their children careful lessons that will last a lifetime.

      When the Spirit wrote this directive for fathers to bring up children in the training and instruction of the Lord, this was not just about a set of rules.  The Lord spent 40 years bring up the children of Israel in the desert, and the primary lesson was very simple--trust Me.  Trust is built through unconditional love that is communicated through consistency and safety.  Trust is learned both through reward and consequence... consistently. 

     So how are you doing?  If you are looking forward to parenting someday, this is the time to build a relationship with the Lord and cultivate the character qualities in the Spirit that will nurture and nourish those children.  If you are in the middle of it and find yourself far more exasperated than you would ever have liked, this is a great time to regroup, surrender to the Lord, and perhaps seek out some good support and instruction in parenting.  If your kids are "grown and gone," you probably also know that such a phrase is rarely a complete reality.  We continue to have a hand in shaping grown children and grandchildren-- which, incidentally, is one of God's very best ideas.


      Father God, help me to grow as one who imitates You.  Help me to be the parent You desire me to be.  Help me to nurture those You put into my life even as in the role of a spiritual mother or father.  Help me to strengthen my family and the extended family of Christ.  In Jesus' Name.